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Livestock attacks: Big changes on way

BIG changes to the way attacks on livestock are dealt with could be on the way. Emma Harper, South Scotland MSP, has officially introduced her Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament where it will now be considered by the Parliament and go through the three-stage legislative process before becoming law in Scotland. The main aims of the Bill are to: increase the maximum penalty for the offence of chasing, attacking and killing livestock to a fine of £5,000 or 6 months suspended sentence; It allows courts to ban a convicted person from owning a dog or from allowing their dog to go onto agricultural land; it gives police greater powers to investigate and enforce the offence and provides greater clarity to the legal bodies - such as the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service - on how to deal with the offence. In addition to stricter penalties and more rigorous investigative powers, the Bill also extends the definition of livestock in Scots law to include additional types of farmed animal such as camelids – llamas and alpacas – which are not covered from chase, attack or death as a result of an uncontrolled dog in the current legislation. The introduction of Miss Harper's Bill – which has already been universally welcomed by Scotland's leading animal welfare and agricultural bodies – is a landmark step for Scottish farmers. The Bill allows Scotland to lead the way both across the UK and internationally in providing updated and clear protection to Scotland's hard-working farming community from loss and damage to their livestock – a crime for which the consequences can be both emotionally and financially devastating. Commenting, Miss Harper said: “I am pleased - after almost two years of rigorous consultation, stakeholder engagement and a drafting process - that I have now formally introduced my Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament where it will shortly proceed to the three-stage legislative process before hopefully becoming law in Scotland. “Throughout the consultation and drafting process, the message I received from Scotland's farmers and agricultural community was clear. People wanted the proposals and Bill to be kept simple and straightforward – and that is what we have achieved through this short 10-page Bill. “The Bill has clear principles. It aims to; increase the maximum penalty for the offence of chasing, attacking and killing livestock, it allows courts to ban a convicted person from owning a dog or from allowing their dog to go onto agricultural land and it gives Police greater powers to investigate and enforce the offence. Additionally, the Bill provides greater clarity to the legal bodies - such as the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service - on how to deal with the offence. “As well as the legalities of the Bill, I want it to be the catalyst for educating the public about the importance of having their dog under control when near livestock and for people to understand the severity of livestock being chased, attacked and killed. The consequences of the offence can be both emotionally and financially detrimental to farmers and it is only right that the penalties of the crime reflect this. “I want to thank everyone – the over 1,000 members of the public who responded to the consultation and the stakeholder groups including the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, NFUS, Scottish SPCA, Dog's Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, National Sheep Association Scotland and many others – who helped get the Bill to this stage. I also thank the Parliament's non-government Bills Unit for their exceptional support with the Bill. “I and my team are now arranging to meet all stakeholders virtually to discuss the Bill and its contents.”

<< back Published: 19 May 2020, 11:22

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